2014 World Cup – Group A
Mexico vs Croatia
Itaipava Arena Pernambuco – Recife, Brazil
Monday, June 23, 2014, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN, Univision
Money Line: Mexico +175 / Croatia +165 / Draw +225
Point Line: Croatia pick -115 / Mexico pick -105
Total: under 2.5 -145 / over 2.5 +125
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Group A in the World Cup is a little convoluted as they complete group play Monday. Brazil and Mexixo top the group with four points, and Croatia had 3 points. Cameroon is eliminated with 0 points. Brazil has a goal differential of +2 and Mexico is +1. Croatia is +2 in goals. All three teams can still win the group or clinch second. Brazil will likely clinch first in the group with a win over Cameroon, and they are heavily favored to do so. A draw for Brazil would force Croatia to beat Mexico to advance. Mexico would advance with a win or a draw against Croatia. To win the group Mexico must beat Croatia and hope Brazil loses or draws to Cameroon. Croatia can only win the group with a win and a Brazil loss or draw. The winner of Group A will play the loser of the Netherlands-Chile match in the round of 16. The winner of Chile-Netherlands will play the second place team in Group A.
Croatia leads the series 2-1-0 against Mexico. Mexico won the last meeting 1-0 in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup.
Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 in the first group match. They were a heavy underdog to host nation Brazil last Tuesday in Fortaleza. Brazil peppered the nets with shots, and it took a heroic effort from Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa to keep El Tri in the match. Brazil had 14 shots and 8 on goal. None of them went in the net. Mexico had 13 and 3 but Brazil keeper Julio Cesar also kept a clean sheet as they played to a goalless draw. It felt like a loss to the home fans, but Mexico gladly took the point in match that could have been 3 or 4 nil. Mexico had 18 fouls to 13 for Brazil. Brazil had possession for 53% of the time. Brazil had 5 corners to 3 for Mexico. Brazil was called for offsides 5 times to 0 for Mexico.
After losing 3-1 to Brazil in the opening match, Croatia rebounded with a 4-0 trouncing of Cameroon last Wednesday in Manaus. Croatia took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Ivica Olic at 11 minutes. At 40 minutes Cameroon midfielder Alexandre Song was sent off after receiving a red card. Croatia would take the 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. However in the second half playing 11 on 10, Croatia dominated. Ivan Pericic made it 2-0 Croatia at 48 minutes. Mario Mandzukic added goals at 61 minutes and 73 minutes. He missed the Brazil game after being suspended for a red card in their last qualifying game.
Croatia had 21 shots including 14 on goal. Cameroon had 18 and 7. Cameroon had 11 fouls to 9 for Croatia. Croatia had possession for 51% of the time. Croatia had 7 corners to 4 for Cameroon. Croatia had 4 offsides called against them and Cameroon had none.
Mexico is coached by Miguel Herrera. Mexico will use a 3-5-2 formation. The good news is Mexico has yet to concede a goal in the World Cup but they have only scored one. Defenders Rafael Marquez and Francisco Rodriguez headline a strong backline. Forwards Oribe Peralta and Giovani Dos Santos are the best scoring threats. Javier Hernandez could provide a spark off the bench if needed for Mexico.
Croatia is coached by Niko Kovac. Croatia will use a 4-2-3-1 formation. Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric are all quality forwards who can score at any time. Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa kept a clean sheet against Cameroon.
Mexico has struggled to score, but can still clinch a berth in the knockout round with a win or a draw here. Croatia really needs a win, but there is an outside shot they could advance with a draw if Cameroon somehow upsets Brazil. I think Croatia finds a way to win 1-0.
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